Pope Francis Wants Pontifical Commission To Work On Prevention
(For Immediate Release December 8, 2022)
At Pope Francis’ meeting with his high-ranking advisers this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, now within the Roman Curia. It is hard for us to envision this Pontifical Commission, which also collaborates with the canonical investigative entity Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, working towards prevention while still in the midst of a pandemic of abuse.
We would be more pleased if the Church stopped talking about prevention and instead started taking action. The Vatican could start by opening its books, and naming those who target children and adults publicly. In our opinion, permanently removing all perpetrators from the ministry and turning over all information on these cases to secular authorities would have a greater impact on the scandal than meetings. Truth, transparency, and awareness are prevention. Identifying and removing perpetrators is important to prevent future crimes, but it is even more important to punish those who enabled the abuse in the first place.
Real reform would also involve the Church doing more to support survivors. Instead of paying lobbyists and lawyers who advocate for keeping the courthouse doors closed to survivors and blocking secular investigative reports, use this money for funding counseling and other critical services for victims.
Protecting and enabling accused bishops, priests, and those in professed religious communities is a heinous crime that endangers communities, families, children, and adults. The immediate impediment to prevention is the power that clergy have over the victims, as well as the power that hierarchs have to control the narrative about abuse. Until the laws are changed and justice is available for victims of sexual abuse past and present, the persistent danger remains, and prevention is only a pipe dream.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)